Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Morning Dew -- "Young Man" (1969)

When I was a young man
I had my ups and downs

Some things never change, do they?

Let's take a break from our current series, which features some of the many versions of Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew," and feature a song by the group Morning Dew.

In 1961, Mal Robinson and Don Sligar were schoolmates at Holliday Junior High School in Topeka, Kansas.  With various friends, they formed several bands -- like the Impax, the Durations, the Runaways, and the Toads.

Check out the Impax, a Ventures-style instrumental band from 1963.  (These dweebs made my old group, the Rogues -- who wore white dinner jackets and ascots when we appeared as 8th graders at the 1966 South Junior High "May Fete" -- look almost cool.)

The members of the Toads liked the Tim Rose version of "Morning Dew" so much that they changed their name to Morning Dew in 1966.  (It appears that Morning Dew never recorded "Morning Dew," however -- I wonder if they ever performed it live?)  

Once the Toads, now Morning Dew
For the next several years, Morning Dew criss-crossed Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, occasionally taking a few days off to record a single at a local recording studio.  

Roulette Records became interested in the group based on a demo they recorded in the summer of 1968 at Fairyland Studios in Columbia, Missouri, but the band's original bass player had been drafted and the label wanted to hear what the new lineup sounded like before offering them a deal.  

So the Morning Dew returned to Fairyland in May 1969 and recorded "Young Man" -- like most of their original songs, it was written by singer-guitarist Mal Robinson.  They recorded a cover of "Get Together" by the Youngbloods the same day.

That's Mal Robinson at the mike
Roulette must have liked what they heard because they signed Morning Dew to a two-record deal shortly thereafter, and the boys drove to New York City a couple of months later and recorded an eponymous album.  For some reason, it wasn't released for a year.  

The album didn't sell, despite having a nude couple on the cover.  (Unfortunately for us red-blooded males, you see a lot more of the guy than the girl -- he does have a nice butt, ladies.)

The group recorded more original music in the summer of 1970, but Roulette never released a second album.  Morning Dew broke up in 1971 but reunited in 2010 to play together one more time when they were inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.  Click here for a video of them performing "Young Man" that night.

"Young Man" sounds a little like the MC5, who had released their first album just a few months before.  The most distinctive thing about it is the very abrupt key change that occurs at 1:40 of the song.  The band returns to the original key just before "Young Man" ends.  

I'm not sure what I think about that key change.  The song has a killer hook, but it is a bit repetitive, I suppose -- the key change shakes things up, but I think I would have been quite happy without it.

Here's "Young Man":

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